Infamous Skunk Terrorizes Nease Residents

It’s the first day of finals week in Dec. 2023 at Point Loma Nazarene University and first-year communications major Maddie Marshall is about to conclude her day, coming back from a class at Liberty Station. She gets dropped off by the campus shuttle and makes her way down the steps leading to the first-floor entrance of Nease Residence Hall.

She makes it to the last step, about to enter safely inside the comfort of a warm building on a dark Monday evening when an animal comes running from under a car, past Marshall, to disappear just as quickly as it came. 

“I thought it was a squirrel — a big squirrel,” Marshall said.

It was a skunk. And Marshall got sprayed.

Marshall didn’t realize she had gotten sprayed at first. “I took a big whiff and smelt one really strong stench and it burned my nose so bad,” she said.

However, she became immune to the smell moments after.

She made her way through Nease to the sixth floor, oblivious to the stench she was leaving behind her. 

Arriving at her room, she asked her friend across the hall, Kate Gerspacher, a first-year management, entrepreneurship major if she smelled.

“I kind of smelled something, but I couldn’t tell what it was — I knew it smelled weird,” Gerspacher said. “Once she said [she got sprayed], it clicked and I knew that that’s what it was. I told her to immediately get in the shower because the smell was starting to build.”

With help from Gerspacher, Nease Resident Director Kathy Lee and her Resident Assistant Nevaeh Vargas, most windows in Nease were opened to air out the smell. Marshall’s clothes were washed and her backpack was set outside the sixth-floor exit, where the seventh-floor caught the smell of it before the backpack was also washed. 

“My room is right across from the sixth-floor exit, my window was open and I could smell it so strongly. It lingered on our floor for the next hour or so,” said seventh-floor Nease resident Kristina Patterson, a second-year psychology major.

To get the stench off of her, Marshall washed herself with dish soap numerous times, she washed her hair with it three times, then proceeded with her normal routine of shampoo and conditioner. 

The brick pathway on the left side of Nease after the sun goes down at approximately 11 p.m., is where and when the skunk often makes its relentless appearance. The skunk must have bills to pay.

“I see the skunk waddling about at least a couple times a month,” Patterson said. “When I see that white stripe walking across [the brick path], I immediately walk the other way.”

Marshall still sees the skunk to this day and “avoids that path at all costs.”

What makes the spray of a skunk so awful is the “sulfur-based organic compounds called thiols,” according to healthline.com. This contributes to the long-lasting effect of the immediate release of what smells like rotten eggs.

What to do if you get sprayed by a skunk:

  1. You can call PLNU’s Public Safety if you don’t have people to help you in your dorm, or if everyone’s asleep. 
  2. Wash your body with dish soap. It is a misconception that tomato soup does the trick; when it only merely masks the stench for a short while, before making its way back again.
  3. Soak in baking soda for at least 20 minutes. 

To rid it off your clothes, wash with laundry detergent mixed with half a cup of baking soda in hot water. Then air dry them. Repeat if necessary.